Alamo Mission in San Antonio

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The Alamo
Alamo pano.jpg
The chapel of the Alamo Mission is known as the "Shrine of Texas Liberty"[2]
Alamo Mission in San Antonio is located in Texas
Alamo Mission in San Antonio
Location 300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas
Coordinates 29°25′33″N 98°29′10″W / 29.42583°N 98.48611°W / 29.42583; -98.48611Coordinates: 29°25′33″N 98°29′10″W / 29.42583°N 98.48611°W / 29.42583; -98.48611
Area 5 acres (2.0 ha)
Built 1718
Governing body Daughters of the Republic of Texas
Part of Alamo Plaza Historic District (#77001425)
NRHP Reference # 66000808[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL December 19, 1960[3]
Designated CP July 13, 1977[4]

The Alamo Mission in San Antonio, commonly called the Alamo, was originally known as the Misión San Antonio de Valero. It is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, and the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. The Alamo is now a museum in the Alamo Plaza Historic District of downtown San Antonio, Texas. Built by the Spanish Franciscan priest, Antonio de Olivares, and Payaya Indians, in 1718, it is the origin of the present city of San Antonio, along with the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar and the Acequia Madre de Valero. The site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 5, 2015.

The compound, which originally consisted of a sanctuary and surrounding buildings, was built by the Spanish Empire in the 18th century for the education of area Native Americans after their conversion to Christianity. In 1793, the mission was secularized and then abandoned. Ten years later, it became a fortress housing a Spanish Army unit, the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, who likely gave the mission the name Alamo. This was early in the period of the Mexican War of Independence.

After independence from Spain was achieved in 1821, Mexican soldiers held the mission until December 1835, when General Martin Perfecto de Cos surrendered it to the Texian Army following the siege of Bexar. A relatively small number of Texian soldiers then occupied the compound. General Sam Houston believed the Texians did not have the manpower to hold the fort and ordered Colonel James Bowie to destroy it. However, he gave Bowie leeway to make his own logistical decision. Bowie decided to work with Colonel James C. Neill to fortify the mission (in part because there were not enough oxen available to move the cannons from the area). On February 23, 1836, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a large force of soldiers into San Antonio de Bexar and promptly initiated a siege. The siege ended on March 6, when the Mexican army overran the compound; by the end of the Battle of the Alamo nearly all of the defenders had been killed. When the Mexican army retreated from Texas at the end of the Texas Revolution, several weeks later, they tore down many of the Alamo walls and burned some of the buildings.

During the Republic of Texas period, which overlapped a period of civil war in Mexico, the Alamo was used off and on to garrison soldiers, either Texian or Mexican, but it was ultimately abandoned. In 1849, a few years after Texas was annexed to the United States, the U.S. Army began renting the facility for use as a quartermaster's depot. During the Civil War, the Confederate Army took over the site. The U.S. Army regained possession after the war and used the facility until 1876, after nearby Fort Sam Houston had been established. The Alamo chapel was sold to the state government of Texas, which conducted occasional tours but made no effort to restore it. The other buildings were sold to a mercantile company which operated them as a wholesale grocery store.

After forming in 1892, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) began trying to preserve the Alamo. In 1905, Adina Emilia De Zavala and Clara Driscoll successfully convinced the state legislature to purchase the remaining buildings and to name the DRT as the permanent custodian of the site. For the next six years, de Zavala and Driscoll quarreled over how to best restore the mission, culminating in a court case to determine which of their competing DRT chapters controlled the Alamo. As a result of the feud, Texas governor Oscar B. Colquitt briefly put the complex under state control and began restorations in 1912; the site was given back to the DRT later that year. The legislature took steps in 1988 and again in 1994 to transfer control of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but the attempt failed after then-Governor George W. Bush vowed to veto any bill removing the now century-old DRT's authority.



The region of Texas was an area of great strategic importance to the Spanish crown. In 1675, an expedition formed by Fray Antonio de Olivares, Fray Francisco Hidalgo, Fray Juan Larios and Fernando del Bosque, set out from the Convent of Querétaro to explore the country beyond the borders of Rio Grande, and to test the possibilities of new settlements in the area.[citation needed]

In the Valley of the Circumcision, 5 miles (8.0 km) from the Rio Grande in Coahuila, Mexico, on March 1, 1700, Fray Antonio de Olivares founded the missions of San Bernardo and Mission San Francisco Solano. Today's municipality of Guerrero is the approximate location of Mission San Francisco Solano.[5] In 1706 he was appointed guardian of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, where he remained three years.[citation needed]

In 1709, de Olivares participated in the expedition headed by Pedro de Aguirre, together with Fray Isidro de Espinosa, exploring the territory where the city of San Antonio now stands. That same year he traveled to Spain, and over the next six years he attempted to convince the authorities of the strategic importance of maintaining and establishing new missions along the San Antonio River.[citation needed]

In 1716, de Olivares wrote to the Viceroy of New Spain, explaining their plans for the future mission, and urged him to send families to found a town. In the same letter he stressed the necessity for some families to be skilled artisans and craftsmen, "to teach the Indians all that should be required to be useful and capable citizens."[6]

Finally, the perseverance of de Olivares was answered when the Viceroyalty gave formal approval for the mission in late 1716, assigning responsibility for its establishment to Martín de Alarcón, the governor of Coahuila y Tejas.[6] de Olivares organized the expedition for the new mission, from the next closest mission, the Mission San Francisco Solano; he met often with the local (Payaya Indians), gradually earning their respect. When all was prepared, de Olivares, with the help of the Payaya, constructed the mission at the head of the San Antonio River, naming it San Antonio de Valero. The name derived from "San Antonio de Padua" and the Viceroy of New Spain, the Marquess of Valero.[6]

During construction, de Olivares suffered a broken leg when he was thrown from the back of his animal. This led to a delay in construction while he healed, during which time he decided to shift the construction site to the west bank of the river, where floods were less likely. At the instructions of his religious order, de Olivares transferred the Mission San Francisco Solano to the new Mission of San Antonio de Valero.[6]

In addition to the Alamo, he also built the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, on the west side of the San Antonio River, approximately 1 mile from the mission.[6] It was designed to protect the system of missions and civilian settlements in central Texas, and to represent Spain in the region against any potential aggression of either the French, British or Americans. The construction of the Acequia Madre de Valero, a 6 mile long irrigation canal built to irrigate 400 hectares, as well as supplying water to the new inhabitants, completed the complex.[7]

Next, de Olivares, again aided by the Payaya Indians, built the bridge connecting the three buildings of the complex: the Misión de San Antonio de Valero, the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, and the Acequia Madre de Valero.[citation needed]

On May 1, 1718, Don Martin de Alarcon gave possession of the Misión de San Antonio de Valero, later known as "The Alamo", to Fray Antonio de Olivares .[6] On July 8, 1718 the first baptism was held at the new Mission.[6]

Over the next several decades, the mission complex expanded to cover 3 acres (1.2 ha).[8] The first new permanent building was likely a two-story, L-shaped stone residence for the priests, serving as parts of the west and south edges of an inner courtyard.[9] A series of adobe barracks were constructed to house the mission Indians, and a textile workshop was erected. By 1744, over 300 Indian converts resided at San Antonio de Valero. The mission was largely self-sufficient, relying on its 2000 head of cattle and 1300 sheep for food and clothing. Each year, the mission's farmland produced up to 2000 bushels of corn and 100 bushels of beans; cotton was also grown to be used in crafting textiles.[10]

The first stones were laid for a more permanent church building in 1744,[10] however, the church, its tower and the sacristy collapsed in the late 1750s.[11] Reconstruction began in 1758, with the new chapel located at the south end of the inner courtyard. Constructed of 4 feet (1.2 m) thick limestone blocks, it was intended to be three stories high, topped by a dome, with bell towers on either side.[8] Its shape was a traditional cross, with a long nave and short transepts.[11] Although the first two levels were completed, the bell towers and third story were never begun.[8] While four stone arches were erected to support the planned dome, the dome itself was never built.[12] As the church was never completed, it is unlikely that it was ever used for religious services.[11]

The chapel was intended to be highly decorated. Niches were carved on either side of the door to hold statues. The lower-level niches displayed Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, while the second-level niches contained statues of Saint Clare and Saint Margaret of Cortona. Carvings were also completed around the chapel's door.[8]

This is one of the first drawings depicting Mission San Antonio de Valero. It was created in 1838 by Mary Maverick and clearly shows statues within the niches.

Up to 30 adobe or mud buildings were constructed to serve as workrooms, storerooms, and homes for the Indian residents. As the nearby presidio was perpetually understaffed, the mission was built to withstand attacks by Apache and Comanche raiders.[9] In 1745, 100 mission Indians successfully drove off a band of 300 Apaches which had surrounded the presidio. Their actions saved the presidio, the mission, and likely the town from destruction.[13] Walls were erected around the Indian homes in 1758, likely in response to a massacre at the San Saba mission.[9] The convent and church were not fully enclosed within the 8 feet (2.4 m) walls. The walls were built 2 feet (0.61 m) thick and enclosed an area 480 feet (150 m) long (north-south) and 160 feet (49 m) wide (east-west). For additional protection, a turret housing three cannon was added near the main gate in 1762. By 1793 an additional one-pounder cannon had been placed on a rampart near the convent.[14]

The population of Indians fluctuated, from a high of 328 in 1756 to a low of 44 in 1777.[9] The new commandant general of the interior provinces, Teodoro de Croix, thought the missions were a liability and began taking actions to decrease their influence. In 1778, he ruled that all unbranded cattle belonged to the government. Raiding Apache tribes had stolen most of the mission's horses, making it difficult to round up and brand the cattle. As a result, when the ruling took effect, the mission lost a great deal of its wealth and was unable to support a larger population of converts.[15] By 1793, only 12 Indians remained.[9][Note 1] By this point, few of the hunting and gathering tribes in Texas had not been Christianized. In 1793, Mission San Antonio de Valero was secularized.[16]

Shortly after, the mission was abandoned. Most locals were uninterested in the buildings.[17] Visitors were often more impressed. In 1828, French naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier visited the area. He mentioned the Alamo complex: "An enormous battlement and some barracks are found there, as well as the ruins of a church which could pass for one of the loveliest monuments of the area, even if its architecture is overloaded with ornamentation like all the ecclesiastical buildings of the Spanish colonies."[18]


In the 19th century, the mission complex became known as "the Alamo". The name may have been derived from the grove of nearby cottonwood trees, known in Spanish as álamo. Alternatively, in 1803, the abandoned compound was occupied by the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, from Álamo de Parras in Coahuila. Locals often called them simply the "Alamo Company".[12]

During the Mexican War of Independence, parts of the mission frequently served as a political prison.[19] Between 1806 and 1812 it served as San Antonio's first hospital. Spanish records indicate that some renovations were made for this purpose, but no details were provided.[17]

The buildings were transferred from Spanish to Mexican control in 1821 after Mexico gained its independence. Soldiers continued to garrison the complex until December 1835, when General Martín Perfecto de Cos surrendered to Texian forces during the Texas Revolution. In the few months that Cos supervised the troops garrisoned in San Antonio, he had ordered many improvements to the Alamo.[20] Cos's men likely demolished the four stone arches that were to support a future chapel dome. The debris from these was used to build a ramp to the apse of the chapel building. There, the Mexican soldiers placed three cannon, which could fire over the walls of the roofless building.[21] To close a gap between the church and the barracks (formerly the convent building) and the south wall, the soldiers built a palisade.[21] When Cos retreated, he left behind 19 cannon,[22] including a 16-pounder.[23][24][25]

Battle of the Alamo[edit]

Main article: Battle of the Alamo

You can plainly see that the Alamo never was built by a military people for a fortress.

Letter, dated January 18, 1836, from engineer Green B. Jameson to Sam Houston, commander of the Texian forces.[26]

With Cos's departure, there was no longer an organized garrison of Mexican troops in Texas,[27] and many Texians believed the war was over.[28] Colonel James C. Neill assumed command of the 100 soldiers who remained. Neill requested that an additional 200 men be sent to fortify the Alamo,[29] and expressed fear that his garrison could be starved out of the Alamo after a four-day siege.[30] However, the Texian government was in turmoil and unable to provide much assistance.[31] Determined to make the best of the situation, Neill and engineer Green B. Jameson began working to fortify the Alamo. Jameson installed the cannons that Cos had left along the walls.[22]

Heeding Neill's warnings, General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Bowie to take 35–50 men to the Alamo to help Neill move all of the artillery and destroy the fortress.[31] However, upon arrival, it was discovered that there were not enough oxen to move the artillery someplace safer, and upon polling the men, most felt that there was a strategic importance to the battlements, leading to a vote on January 26 by the Texian soldiers to hold the Alamo.[32] On February 11, Neill went on furlough and pursued additional reinforcements and supplies for the garrison.[33] William Travis and James Bowie agreed to share command of the Alamo.[34][35]

1854 drawing – The Alamo chapel would have looked something like this in the 1830s.

On February 23 the Mexican army, under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, arrived in San Antonio de Bexar.[36] For the next thirteen days, the Mexican Army laid siege to the Alamo, during which work continued on the interior of the Alamo. After Mexican soldiers tried to block the irrigation ditch leading into the fort, Jameson supervised the digging of a well at the south end of the plaza. Although the men hit water, they weakened an earth and timber parapet near the barracks, collapsing it and leaving no way to fire safely over that wall.[37]

The Fall of the Alamo, painted by Theodore Gentilz in 1844, depicts the final assault.

On March 6 the Mexican army overran the walls, most of the Texians fell back to the long barracks (convent) and the chapel. During the siege, Texians had carved holes in many of the walls of these rooms so that they would be able to fire.[38] Each room had only one door which led into the courtyard[39] and which had been "buttressed by semicircular parapets of dirt secured with cowhides".[40] Some of the rooms even had trenches dug into the floor to provide some cover for the defenders.[41] Mexican soldiers utilized the abandoned Texian cannon to blow off the doors of the rooms, allowing Mexican soldiers to enter and defeat the Texians.[40]

The last of the Texians to die were the eleven men manning the two 12 lb (5.4 kg) cannon in the chapel.[42][43] The entrance to the church had been barricaded with sandbags, however a shot from the 18 lb (8.2 kg) cannon destroyed the barricades, and Mexican soldiers were able to enter the building. The Texians, including Dickinson, Gregorio Esparza, and Bonham, grabbed rifles and fired before being bayoneted to death.[44] Texian Robert Evans was master of ordnance and had been tasked with keeping the gunpowder from falling into Mexican hands. Wounded, he crawled towards the powder magazine but was killed by a musket ball with his torch only inches from the powder.[44] If he had succeeded, the blast would have destroyed the church.[45]

Santa Anna ordered that the Texian bodies be stacked and burned.[46][Note 2] All, or almost all, of the Texian defenders were killed, although some historians believe that at least one Texian, Henry Warnell, successfully escaped from the battle. Warnell would die several months later of wounds incurred either during the final battle or during his escape.[47][48] Most Alamo historians agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded.[49][50][51] This would represent about one-third of the Mexican soldiers involved in the final assault, which as one historian stated, was "a tremendous casualty rate by any standards".[49]

Further military use[edit]

Following the battle of the Alamo, one thousand Mexican soldiers, under General Juan Andrade, remained at the mission. For the next two months they repaired and fortified the complex, however no records remain of what improvements they made to the structure.[52] After the Mexican army's defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto and the capture of Santa Anna, the Mexican army agreed to leave Texas, effectively ending the Texas Revolution. As Andrade and his garrison joined the retreat on May 24, they spiked the cannons, tore down many of the Alamo walls, and set fires throughout the complex.[53] Only a few buildings survived their efforts; the chapel was left in ruins, most of the Long Barracks was still standing, and the building that had contained the south wall gate and several rooms was mostly intact.[21]

The Texians briefly used the Alamo as a fortress in December 1836 and again in January 1839. The Mexican army regained control in March 1842 and September 1842 as they briefly took San Antonio de Bexar. According to historians Roberts and Olson, "both groups carved names in the Alamo's walls, dug musket rounds out of the holds, and knocked off stone carvings".[53] Pieces of the debris were sold to tourists, and in 1840 the San Antonio town council passed a resolution allowing local citizens to take stone from the Alamo at a cost of $5 per wagonload.[53] By the late 1840s, even the four statues located on the front wall of the chapel had been removed.[54]

Alamo Plaza in the 1860s

On January 13, 1841, the Republic of Texas passed an act returning the sanctuary of the Alamo to the Roman Catholic Church.[55] By 1845, when Texas was annexed to the United States, a colony of bats occupied the abandoned complex and weeds and grass covered many of the walls.[56]

As the Mexican-American War loomed in 1846, 2000 United States Army soldiers were sent to San Antonio under Brigadier General John Wool. By the end of the year, they had appropriated part of the Alamo complex for the Quartermaster's Department. Within eighteen months, the convent building had been restored to serve as offices and storerooms. The chapel remained vacant, however, as the army, the Roman Catholic Church, and the city of San Antonio bickered over its ownership. An 1855 decision by the Texas Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Catholic Church was the rightful owner of the chapel.[55] Even while litigation was ongoing, the army rented the chapel from the Catholic Church for $150 per month.[56]

Under the army's oversight, the Alamo was greatly repaired. Soldiers cleared the grounds and rebuilt the old convent and the mission walls, primarily from original stone which was strewn along the ground. During the renovations, a new wooden roof was added to the chapel and the campanulate, or bell-shaped facade, was added to the front wall of the chapel. At the time, reports suggested that the soldiers found several skeletons while clearing the rubble from the chapel floor. The new chapel roof was destroyed in a fire in 1861.[56] The army also cut additional windows into the chapel, adding two on the upper level of the facade as well as additional windows on the other three sides of the building.[54] The complex eventually contained a supply depot, offices, storage facilities, a blacksmith shop, and stables.[57]

During the American Civil War, Texas joined the Confederacy, and the Alamo complex was taken over by the Confederate Army.[58] In February 1861, the Texan Militia, under direction from the Texas Secession Convention and led by Ben McCullough and Sam Maverick, confronted General Twiggs, commander of all US Forces in Texas and headquartered at the Alamo. Twiggs elected to surrender and all supplies were turned over to the Texans.[59] Following the Confederacy's defeat, the United States Army again maintained control over the Alamo.[57] Shortly after the war ended, however, the Catholic Church requested that the army vacate the premises so that the Alamo could become a place of worship for local German Catholics. The army refused, and the church made no further attempts at retaking the complex.[58]


Mercantile firm Hugo & Schmeltzer operated a store on the site in the 1880s.

The army abandoned the Alamo in 1876, when Fort Sam Houston was established in San Antonio. About that time, the Church sold the convent to Honore Grenet, who added a new two-story wood building to the complex. Grenet used the convent and the new building for a wholesale grocery business.[56] After Grenet's death in 1882, his business was purchased by the mercantile firm, Hugo & Schmeltzer, which continued to operate the store.[60]

San Antonio's first rail service began in 1877, and the city's tourism industry began to grow. The city heavily advertised the Alamo, using photographs and drawings that showed only the chapel, not the surrounding city. Many of the visitors were disappointed with their visit; in 1877 tourist Harrier P. Spofford wrote that the chapel was "a reproach to all San Antonio. Its wall is overthrown and removed, its dormitories are piled with military stores, its battle-scarred front has been revamped and repainted and market carts roll to and fro on the spot where flames ascended ... over the funeral pyre of heroes".[61]

Ownership transfer[edit]

In 1883, the Catholic Church sold the chapel to the State of Texas for $20,000. The state hired Tom Rife to manage the building. He gave tours but did not make any efforts to restore the chapel. The 50th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo received little attention. In an editorial after the fact, the San Antonio Express called for the formation of a new society that would help recognize important historical events. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) organized in 1892 with one of their main goals being to preserve the Alamo.[62] Among its early members was Adina Emilia De Zavala, granddaughter of the Republic of Texas Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala. Shortly before the turn of the 20th century, Adina de Zavala convinced Gustav Schmeltzer, owner of the convent, to give the DRT first option in purchasing the building if it was ever sold. In 1903, when Schmeltzer wanted to sell the building to a developer, he offered the building first to the DRT for $75,000, which they did not have. During De Zavala's attempts to raise the money, she met Clara Driscoll, an heiress who was very interested in Texas history, especially the Alamo.[63]

Shortly thereafter, Driscoll joined the DRT and was appointed chair of the San Antonio chapter's fund-raising committee. The DRT negotiated a 30-day option on the property, wherein the group would pay $500 up front, with $4,500 due at the conclusion of the 30 days, with an additional $20,000 due on February 10, 1904, and the remainder paid in five annual installments of $10,000. Driscoll paid the initial $500 deposit out of her personal funds, and when fundraising efforts fell far short (only raising slightly over $1,000 of the needed $4,500), Driscoll paid the balance of the $4,500 from her own pocket.[64]

At the urging of both Driscoll and de Zavala, the Texas Legislature approved $5,000 for the committee to use as part of the next payment. The appropriation was vetoed by Governor S. W. T. Lanham, who said it was "not a justifiable expenditure of the taxpayers' money".[65] DRT members set up a collection booth outside the Alamo and held several fundraising activities, collecting $5,662.23. Driscoll agreed to make up the difference, as well as agreeing to pay the final $50,000. After hearing of her generosity, various newspapers in Texas dubbed her the "Savior of the Alamo".[65] Many groups began to petition the legislature to reimburse Driscoll. In January 1905, de Zavala drafted a bill that was sponsored by representative Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr. (father of future US President Lyndon Baines Johnson), to reimburse Driscoll and name the DRT custodian of the Alamo. The bill passed, and Driscoll received all of her money back.[65]

Driscoll and de Zavala argued over how best to preserve the building. De Zavala wished to restore the exterior of the buildings to a state similar to its 1836 appearance, focusing on convent (then called the long barracks), while Driscoll to tear down the long barracks, and create a monument similar to those she had seen in Europe: "a city center opened by a large plaza and anchored by an ancient chapel".[66]

Unable to reach an agreement, Driscoll and several others women formed a competing chapter of the DRT named the Alamo Mission chapter. The two chapters argued over which had oversight of the Alamo. Unable to resolve the dispute, in February 1908 the executive committee of the DRT leased out the building.[67] Angry with that decision, de Zavala announced that a syndicate wanted to buy the chapel and tear it down.[67] She then barricaded herself in the Hugo and Schmetlzer building for three days.[68]

In response to de Zavala's actions, on February 12, Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell ordered that the superintendent of public buildings and grounds take control of the property. Eventually a judge named Driscoll's chapter the official custodians of the Alamo.[69] The DRT later expelled de Zavala and her followers.[70]

This 1907 postcard entreated citizens to Save the Alamo.


Theodore Roosevelt giving a speech at the Alamo, April 7, 1905. The picture shows the building that had been added by Hugo and Schmeltzer.

Driscoll offered to donate the money required to tear down the convent, build a stone wall around the Alamo complex, and convert the interior into a park.[70] The legislature postponed a decision until after the 1910 elections after which Texas had a new governor, Oscar Branch Colquitt. Both de Zavala and Driscoll spoke, and Colquitt toured the property; three months later, Colquitt removed the DRT as official custodians of the Alamo, citing that they had done nothing to restore the property since gaining control. He also announced an intent to rebuild the convent. Shortly thereafter, the legislature paid to demolish the building that had been added by Hugo and Schmeltzer and authorized $5,000 to restore the rest of the complex. The restorations were begun, but not finished, as the appropriations fell short of the costs.[71]

Driscoll, upset over Colquitt's decisions, used her influence to undermine him. She told the New York Herald Tribune that "the Daughters desire to have a Spanish garden on the site of the old mission, but the governor will not consider it. Therefore, we are going to fight him from the stump. ... We are also going to make speeches in the districts of State Senators who voted against and killed the amendment" to return control of the mission to the DRT.[72] Subsequently, while Colquitt was out of state on a business trip, Lieutenant Governor William Harding Mayes allowed the removal of the upper-story walls of the long barracks from the convent, leaving only the one-story walls of the west and south portions of the building. This conflict became known as the Second Battle of the Alamo.[72] Upon their deaths in 1945 and 1955, Driscoll and de Zavala, respectively, had their bodies laid in state in the Alamo Chapel.[73]

The Alamo and Downtown San Antonio c. 1920. In the center of the surrounding area are the remains of the "Long Barracks" which had been covered by the Hugo and Schmeltzer building

In 1931, Driscoll convinced the state legislature to purchase two tracts of land between the chapel and Crockett street.[74] In 1935, she convinced the city of San Antonio not to place a fire station in a building near the Alamo; the DRT later purchased that building and made it the DRT library.[75] During the Great Depression, money from the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration was used to construct a wall around the Alamo and a museum, and to raze several non-historic buildings on the Alamo property.[76]

The Alamo was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960, and was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1961.[77] It was an inaugural listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and is a contributing property to the Alamo Plaza Historic District, which was designated in 1977. As San Antonio prepared to host the Hemisfair in 1968, the long barracks was roofed and turned into a museum. Few structural changes have taken place since then.[78]

According to Herbert Malloy Mason's Spanish Missions of Texas, the Alamo is one of "the finest examples of Spanish ecclesiastical building on the North American continent".[79][Note 3] The mission, along with others located in San Antonio, is at risk from environmental factors, however. The limestone used to construct the buildings was taken from the banks of the San Antonio River. It expands when confronted with moisture and then contracts when temperatures drop, shedding small pieces of limestone with each cycle. Measures have been taken to partially combat the problem.[80]

Ownership dispute[edit]

In 1988, a theater near the Alamo unveiled a new movie, Alamo ... the Price of Freedom. The 40-minute long film would be screened several times each day. The movie attracted much protest from Mexican American activists, who decried the anti-Mexican comments and complained that it ignored Tejano contributions to the battle. The movie was re-edited in response to the complaints, but the controversy grew to the point that many activists began pressuring the legislature to move control of the Alamo to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).[81] In response to pressure from Hispanic groups, state representative Orlando Garcia of San Antonio began legislative hearings into DRT finances. The DRT agreed to make their financial records more open, and the hearings were canceled.[82]

[The Alamo is] one of the most important history structures in the state. It belongs to everyone, or at least it should. ... [It] shouldn't be managed by any private group–I don't care if it is the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Elks, the Muslims, or the Water Buffalo Club.

Texas legislator Ron Wilson, who wished to transfer oversight of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.[83]

Shortly after that, San Antonio representative Jerry Beauchamp proposed that the Alamo be transferred from the DRT to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Many minority legislators agreed with him.[83] However, the San Antonio mayor, Henry Cisneros, advocated that control remain with the DRT, and the legislature shelved the bill.[83]

Rear view of the main building of the Alamo, 2008

Several years later, Carlos Guerra, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, began writing columns attacking the DRT for their care of the Alamo. According to him, the DRT had kept the temperature too low within the chapel, causing water vapor to form. The water vapor would then mix with car exhaust fumes and damage the limestone walls. These allegations prompted the legislature in 1993 to again attempt to transfer control of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. At the same time, State Senator Gregory Luna filed a competing bill to transfer oversight of the Alamo to the Texas Historical Commission.[84]

By the following year, some advocacy groups in San Antonio had begun pressing for the mission to be turned into a larger historical park. They wished to restore the chapel to its 18th century appearance and focus the complex on its mission days rather than the activities of the Texas Revolution.[84] The DRT was outraged. The head of the group's Alamo Committee, Ana Hartman, claimed that the dispute was gender based. According to her, " "There's something macho about it. Some of the men who are attacking us just resent what has been a successful female venture since 1905."[85]

The dispute was mostly resolved in 1994, when then-governor George W. Bush vowed to veto any legislation that would displace the DRT as caretakers of the Alamo.[86] Later that year, the DRT erected a marker on the mission grounds recognizing that they had once served as Indian burial grounds.[87]

Modern use[edit]

Today the site of the Alamo Mission is a museum.
This photo gives a sense of
the small size of the building.
Alamo Mission (2011)
Tony Caridi and Phil Collins (May 2010)

As of 2002, the Alamo welcomed over four million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular historic sites in the United States.[88] Visitors may tour the chapel, as well as the Long Barracks, which contains a small museum with paintings, weapons, and other artifacts from the era of the Texas Revolution.[89] Additional artifacts are displayed in another complex building, alongside a large diorama that recreates the compound as it existed in 1836. A large mural, known as the Wall of History, portrays the history of the Alamo complex from its mission days to modern times.[2]

Alamo entrance

The site has an annual operating budget of $6 million, primarily funded through sales in the gift store.[90][91] In 2009 the DRT commissioned the first land survey of the Alamo by Westar Alamo Land Surveyors, Inc. which was signed by Registered Professional Land Surveyor Jose A. Trevino in November 2009.[92] That same year,[93] a division arose between current and former members of the DRT's board of management and the Alamo Committee, over the current administration's management, preservation and financial vision for the Alamo. The disagreement created factions and would eventually erupt into a civil war within the organization, leading to the expulsions of three outspoken DRT members beginning in October 2010.[94]

Early in 2011, then State Senator Leticia R. Van de Putte, whose district includes the site, drafted legislation for increased oversight of the DRT at the Alamo.[95] Despite an investigation by then Attorney General Greg Abbott, now the governor, revealed[96][97] an attempt to trademark the words "The Alamo" was blocked by then Governor Rick Perry, a contract dispute existed over marketing the Alamo with William Morris Endeavor,[98] and a 175th anniversary symphony concert celebration with pop star Phil Collins had failed to materialize,[99] the DRT kept for the time being control of the Alamo. However, Van De Putte's legislation gained momentum through the 2011 Texas legislative session; it became HB3726. The bill was passed and signed by Governor Perry.[100] It effectively ending the DRT's 106-year reign as the sole caretaker of the Alamo. The new law placed the Alamo under the care and leadership of the Texas General Land Office.

On January 20, 2012 the DRT fired its director of Marketing and Public Relations, Tony J. Caridi.[101] In an official statement, the GLO claimed that "Caridi was fired with the Land Office's consent", and that the DRT alleged Caridi "had committed multiple serious violations of the employee manual." Caridi had been involved with the DRT's application for a trademark on the words "The Alamo", a $900,000 promotions contract with the Beverly Hills-based William Morris Endeavor Entertainment group, and a nationally televised symphony concert with Phil Collins and Ricky Skaggs. Collins and Skaggs agreed to perform without charge, but Caridi was unable to raise the funds needed to pay for the concert.[99]

The DRT claimed that Caridi had been writing a tell-all book using a work computer on company time. Caridi confirmed that he had written a manuscript entitled "Neglected Legacy" and sought representation by a New York literary agent. Caridi claims the exposé is based on facts and corroborated using recordings, emails, documents and photographic evidence. The DRT claims, after having seized copies from Caridi's computer, that the manuscript contains "outrageous, untrue, and slanderous inappropriate allegations about his employer, DRT members, legislators and coworkers."[102] On Friday September 20, 2012 Caridi's attorney Adam Poncio, filed a lawsuit against the DRT claiming Caridi was sexually harassed by a DRT board member, stating that rejecting the board member's repeated, unwanted advances led to retaliation against him.[103]

On November 20, 2012, Attorney General Abbott released to the public a 38-page report; culminating an 18-month-long investigation, begun in 2010, of the DRT's management practices of the Alamo. The report states the DRT: did not properly maintain the Alamo; misused State funds for the organization's own benefit; failed to recognize or address conflicts of interest; allowed its own prerogatives to interfere with the best interests of the State of Texas and the Alamo; failed to exercise sound business judgment; and violated State laws. The DRT President, General Karen Thompson, in a statement said; "the DRT is shocked at the outrageously inaccurate conclusions within the report."[104] The DRT entered into an 18-month operating agreement with the GLO as a State contractor at the Alamo.[105]

On March 12, 2015, Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced that his office is taking charge of the daily operations of the Alamo from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The state will instead develop a master plan for the Alamo and conduct a nationwide search for a new management firm. In a statement, Bush said that the change will "create a bigger, brighter future for this Texas shrine." The DRT intervened in 1905 to keep the Alamo from being razed. The group said that it hopes the change in management will not lead to commercialization of the shrine along lines of an amusement park.[106] The DRT filed suit against the General Land Office seeking to regain control of some 38,000 books and artifacts lost in the state takeover of the shrine. The organization claims that the state engaged in an unconstitutional seizure of private property without due process of law.[107]

The Masonic lodge still considers the Alamo as an important landmark in its own history because many Alamo heroes were also Masons. The Grand Lodge of Texas hosts a yearly remembrance ceremony on or near Texas Independence Day.[citation needed]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Mason lists the number as 52. Mason (1974), p. 56.
  2. ^ The only exception was the body of Gregorio Esparza, whose brother, Francisco Esparza, served in Santa Anna's army and received permission to give Gregorio a proper burial. Edmondson (2000), p. 374.
  3. ^ Mason believes that the remaining missions in San Antonio, as well as Presidio la Bahia in Goliad, Texas, are in a similar category to the Alamo building. Mason (1974), p. 71.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 119.
  3. ^ Heintzelman (May 1975), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Spanish Governor's Palace (PDF), National Park Service, retrieved 2009-06-22  and [1] PDF (852 KB)
  4. ^ Texas Historic Atlas
  5. ^ Weddle, Robert S. "San Francisco Solano Mission". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Adina Emilia De Zavala (December 8, 1917). "History and legends of The Alamo and others missions in and around San Antonio". History legends of de Zarichs Online. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ De Zavala, Adina; Flores, Richard R (1996). History and Legends of the Alamo and Other Missions in and Around San Antonio. Arte Publico Press. pp. 3, 4. ISBN 978-1-55885-181-8. 
  8. ^ a b c d Thompson (2002), p 18.
  9. ^ a b c d e Schoelwer (1985), p. 23.
  10. ^ a b Mason (1974), p. 44.
  11. ^ a b c Schoelwer (1985), p. 22.
  12. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 19.
  13. ^ Mason (1974), p. 45.
  14. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 24.
  15. ^ Mason (1974), p. 58.
  16. ^ Chipman (1992), p. 202.
  17. ^ a b Schoelwer (1985), p. 29.
  18. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 26.
  19. ^ Mason (1974), p. 61.
  20. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 10.
  21. ^ a b c Thompson (2002), p. 20.
  22. ^ a b Hardin (1994), p. 111.
  23. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 178.
  24. ^ John Bryant, Alamo cannon, 1997
  25. ^ Barbara L. Young, "CAYCE, HENRY PETTY," Handbook of Texas Online [2], accessed June 24, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  26. ^ Lord (1961), p. 59.
  27. ^ Barr (1990), p. 64.
  28. ^ Hardin (1994), p. 91.
  29. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 29.
  30. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 30.
  31. ^ a b Todish et al. (1998), p. 31.
  32. ^ Hopewell (1994), p. 114.
  33. ^ Steve Goodson, The Runaway Scrape
  34. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 32.
  35. ^ Hardin (1994), p. 120.
  36. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 40.
  37. ^ Nofi (1992), p. 102.
  38. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 53.
  39. ^ Edmondson (2000), p. 370.
  40. ^ a b Hardin (1994), p. 147.
  41. ^ Petite (1998), p. 114.
  42. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 54.
  43. ^ Petite (1998), p. 115.
  44. ^ a b Edmondson (2000), p. 371.
  45. ^ Tinkle (1985), p. 216.
  46. ^ Edmondson (2000), p. 374.
  47. ^ Edmondson (2000), p. 407.
  48. ^ Groneman (1990), p. 119.
  49. ^ a b Todish et al. (1998), p. 55.
  50. ^ Hardin (1961), p. 155.
  51. ^ Nofi (1992), p. 136.
  52. ^ Thompson (2002), p. 102.
  53. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 200.
  54. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 103.
  55. ^ a b Schoelwer (1985), p. 32.
  56. ^ a b c d Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 201.
  57. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 104.
  58. ^ a b Schoelwer (1985), p. 38.
  59. ^ March 23, 1861 issue, Harpers Weekly
  60. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 202.
  61. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 40.
  62. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 206.
  63. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 207.
  64. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 208.
  65. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 209.
  66. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 210.
  67. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 211.
  68. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 198.
  69. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 197.
  70. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 212.
  71. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 213.
  72. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 214.
  73. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), pp. 227, 229.
  74. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 221.
  75. ^ Roberts and Olson (222).
  76. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 225.
  77. ^ "Walter Eugene George, Jr. Collection: 1951-2007", Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas at Austin Libraries. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
  78. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 59.
  79. ^ Mason (1974), p. 71.
  80. ^ Mason (1974), p. 78.
  81. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 301.
  82. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), pp. 303–4.
  83. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 304.
  84. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 307.
  85. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 308.
  86. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 309.
  87. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 310.
  88. ^ Thompson (2002), p. 108.
  89. ^ Thompson (2002), p. 121.
  90. ^ Korn, Marjorie (August 24, 2009), "Hutchison wants more state oversight over Alamo", Houston Chronicle: Section B, pp. 2–3, retrieved 2009-09-07 
  91. ^ Huddleston, Scott (September 1, 2011), "State Wants Alamo To Have Director", San Antonio Express News 
  92. ^ 86
  93. ^ Weber, Paul J (24 July 2009). "Alamo Rift Divides Group Over Revered Texas Site". ABC News. 
  94. ^ Huddleston, Scott (October 6, 2010), "DRT Ousts A Third Outspoken Member", San Antonio Express News 
  95. ^ Huddleston, Scott J (13 March 2011). "New Rules for Alamo Guardians". San Antonio Express News. 
  96. ^ Huddleston, Scott (March 24, 2011), "AG's Office Draws Line In The Sand For Alamo Caretakers", San Antonio Express News 
  97. ^ Huddleston, Scott J (18 May 2012). "Haven CFO to Lead Alamo". San Antonio Express News. 
  98. ^ Huddleston, Scott (March 4, 2011), "State Is Reassessing DRT's Role at Alamo", San Antonio Express News 
  99. ^ a b Huddleston, Scott (January 6, 2011), "Alamo Concert Now On Hold", San Antonio Express News 
  100. ^ Huddleston, Scott (November 18, 2011), "State, DRT agree on Alamo Trademark", San Antonio Express News 
  101. ^ Huddleston, Scott (January 23, 2012), "Alamo Marketing Director Calls His Dismissal Wrongful", San Antonio Express News 
  102. ^ Huddleston, Scott (February 4, 2012), "Exposé to Blow Lid Off DRT Exploits", San Antonio Express News 
  103. ^ Huddleston, Scott (September 25, 2012), "Fired Spokesman Sues DRT Claiming Sexual Harassment", San Antonio Express News 
  104. ^ Huddleston, Scott (November 21, 2012), "DRT Blasted on Alamo", San Antonio Express News 
  105. ^ Huddleston, Scott (April 25, 2012), "DRT member Assumes New Alamo Post", San Antonio Express News 
  106. ^ State takes over management of Alamo", Laredo Morning Times, March 15, 2015, p. 8A
  107. ^ "Former Alamo custodians sue for artifacts", Laredo Morning Times, March 24, 2015, p. 2


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]